British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 23 Issue 4 (November 2005), Pages 487-660

The association of paternal mood and infant temperament: A pilot study (pages 609-621)

Maternal depression is associated with adverse child development, but little is known about the effects of paternal depression. This pilot study estimated the prevalence of paternal depression and mood state, and assessed the relationship between paternal mood and infant temperament. The participants in the study were 98 fathers of newborn babies. Fathers were initially screened for depressed mood (Hospital anxiety and depression scale, and Edinburgh postnatal depression scale), and at 6 months parental mood, infant temperament, couple relationship quality, alcohol use, adverse life events, parenting, and demographics were recorded. Infant fussiness was analysed in relation to paternal mood and other contextual factors using multiple regression. Of the 98 fathers, 48 (49%) completed depression‐screening measures. Of these 48 fathers, 4 (8%) reported depressive symptoms above the cut‐off for case definition. A total of 48% (N=19) completed measures at follow‐up. In the adjusted model, higher paternal depression scores, more traditional attitudes towards fathering, and increased recent life events were related to higher infant fussiness scores; and better couple relationship quality was related to lower fussiness scores. This study showed that 1 in 12 fathers had depressed mood, and lower mood was associated with negative infant temperament. Since the findings of this feasibility study were based on a small sample size the association of paternal mood and child development merits further study using a larger sample of fathers.

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